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MBJ, Southern Research Group and U.S. NetworX launch search for Best Places to Work

How does your company stack up as an employer?

If a company wants to know just how good an employer it is, the obvious people to ask are the employees. Of course, the staff may be a little hesitant to be totally honest with management or ownership, so confidentiality would be a must. The company would also need to ask the right questions to get a comprehensive picture of employees’ feelings across a range of issues. And if all of that weren’t difficult enough, the company would also need an independent, third party to analyze that information objectively.

With all of these headaches, not to mention the expense of such an endeavor, maybe a company would be tempted to just scrap the whole idea. Or perhaps it could register in a new recognition program driven by employee responses called Best Places to Work in Mississippi, being offered by the Mississippi Business Journal in conjunction with Southern Research Group and U.S. NetworX.

Time in the sun

“Venture Publications (the parent company of the MBJ) sponsors several recognition programs each year to spotlight individuals and companies that are raising the bar of excellence in our state’s business community,” said Robbie L. Bell, vice president of business development at the MBJ. “We wanted to find a program that gives the participating companies a valid look at their performance as employers, and Best Places to Work in Mississippi fits that niche.”

Best Places to Work in Mississippi works like this. Companies register online at the program’s dedicated Web site designed and hosted by U.S. NetworX — http://www.bestplacestoworkinms.com/. Each company is then assigned a unique access code. Using that access code, employees are provided an online survey form that asks a range of questions. That confidential information is then gathered by Southern Research Group, Mississippi’s full-service research company with a long history in handling such data, evaluated and then ranked accordingly.

“Venture Publications has engaged the services of Southern Research Group on several occasions,” Bell said. “Working with them has convinced us of their precision and dedication to uncompromised scientific results.”

The registration deadline is November 29, 2005, and the survey completion deadline is December 29, 2005. An awards presentation ceremony will be held January 18, 2006, at the Mississippi Trademart as part of the 23rd Annual Mississippi Business and Technology EXPO, and the winners will also be featured in a special publication of the MBJ.

Winners will be selected from four categories — mega-large companies (500 or more employees), large companies (200-499 employees), medium companies (50-199 employees) and small companies (25 minimum to 49 employees).

Both for-profit and non-profit companies, as well as publicly traded and privately held businesses, are eligible. Other eligibility requirements are: have a facility in Mississippi; have at least 25 full-time employees in Mississippi; and, be in good standing with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.

Why participate?

The benefits to participate are many. They include a better understanding of employees’ viewpoints; additional confidence for existing clients and a recruiting tool to gain new customers; better bottom line; enhanced employee relations and feeling of empowerment; increased visibility through the special publication, press releases and year-long posting of the honorees on the Best Places Web site; employee retention and recruitment; and, the value of Southern Research Group’s in-depth report, which the winners receive free of charge.

Both Southern Research Group and U.S. NetworX are really high on those benefits. “We are excited to be a part of the program,” said Kurt Rushing, director of business development at Southern Research Group. “How a company stacks up to its peers as employers is invaluable information — for CEOs as well as employees.”

Meg Martin, vice president of sales and marketing at U.S. NetworX, said, “One reason I’m happy we’re participating is the recognition it gives our excellent companies to those outside the state. It’s great exposure. We also have too many Mississippians getting their education here, then leaving our state because they believe the better opportunities are elsewhere. Maybe this program will help bring some of those back home, as well as import some new, out-of-state talent.”

“The survey feedback that participating companies will receive can help them build better workforce relations and enhance their image as quality employers,” Bell said. “Mississippi needs more companies actively pursuing workforce development, and when the results are announced, MBJ readers, and, via the Internet, people across the nation and around the world will be able to learn more about some companies that are setting good examples.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.


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